How a Winning Content Strategy Builds Brand Trust
Trust. It’s the foundation of any successful relationship. This is the case for almost every type of relationship, including one between a company and its customers. While brand trust isn’t a new concept, the need to nurture brand trust is more crucial now than ever.
The results speak for themselves: The "2019 Edelman Trust Barometer" revealed that despite consumers’ want and need for brands to reflect their personal beliefs, brands are largely failing the trust test. In the survey, only one in three respondents said they trust most of the brands that they buy and use, and only 21% said they know from personal experience that the brands they use keep the best interests of society in mind. What’s more, 56% reported feeling that too many brands are using societal issues as a marketing ploy.
Before a company can persuade a new customer to purchase its products or services, it must first convince its audience that the business has their best interests in mind. Companies must prioritize brand trust very early on in a customer’s exposure to the brand, especially in this digital age where websites, social media, and online reviews are making it easier to form quick opinions about brands.
With customers demanding more and more from companies — such as transparency, authenticity, ethical practices, and legitimate brand promises — marketers must pay closer attention to what it means to build brand trust. The solution lies in delivering your business’s value with integrity at every interaction. This goes beyond a business’s product or service and includes the marketing content you provide along the customer journey.
Having a strong content strategy in place can help marketers build and grow brand trust. Businesses should adhere to the following best practices below when considering brand trust:
No. 1: Make a Case for Brand Trust Early On
The content you develop should take into account the needs of your audience at different stages of the customer journey. This is especially true during the early stages of the journey — including awareness and consideration. In these stages, content should focus on the core problem your ideal customer is trying to solve rather than pitching your solution.
To improve brand trust, start by reviewing the content you’ve already published. Does this content provide valuable insight on the problems customers face? Is it compelling? During the early stages of the customer journey, content needs to motivate people to continue to interact with your brand. When potential customers need additional information, they should be convinced they can find the answers from your brand. If customers feel that you know who they are and what they value, they will have a reason to trust your business and overall brand. This is a vital step in winning lasting customers. If they consistently experience positive interactions with your brand, you have a better chance of gaining a higher level of brand loyalty.
No. 2: Understand Who You’re Targeting
Every content strategy starts with having a great understanding of your customers. When customers feel they’re understood, they are more likely to trust your brand.
Take amateur photography, for example — when researching for tips on how to take a portrait, a “top tips” list with other detailed articles that include plenty of photo examples can be beneficial. The photographer likely isn’t interested in the ads or other content about cameras and photo equipment; however, once the photographer has seen a recommendation multiple times for adding extra lighting to improve portraits, he may start looking at “pros and cons” of different lighting equipment before moving to a “detailed comparison” of different external camera flashes. Next, he may need a simple “hot-to” article so he can start using his newly purchased items. Once he’s ready to print his favorite photo, having video content that lets him see the difference in quality between different printing and finishing options can be helpful, too.
In order to achieve a high level of trust, brands should communicate with customers using content that’s crafted to meet their needs and their expectations of the brand. Collecting data insights from customers to truly understand their needs can help build that coveted type of content.
No. 3: Make a Great First Impression
More often than not, a customer’s first impression of a new brand is through a piece of published content. We live in a digital age — instead of seeing a physical product in a store, customers are likely going to visit a business’s website or social channels to discover its products and services and ultimately decide if the business’s offering solves their problem, and on a deeper level if its values align with their own. That’s why having great marketing content goes right along with making the right first impression. A company’s content must provide a sense of intrinsic quality that the visual craftsmanship of a product or its packaging have traditionally played.
For example, when building content around the company’s brand promise, maintain consistency with the tone, personality, and messaging outlined in your brand guidelines. Make sure that the brand guidelines are translated into everything that you do — your website, your social posts, your blogs, etc. A consistent brand presentation builds confidence among your targeted audience, as well as enhances brand awareness.
No. 4: Use Social Proof to Establish Trust
It will require more than just a one-time experience to win over a customer. When a prospect is ready to focus on finding a solution, try highlighting customers in your content. The focus should not be your company, but on your customers who are showcased as the heroes in testimonials, case studies, and use cases. By having published testimonies, prospects can see that other companies have already built that trust with your product or service. This type of social proof presents content in a way that helps prospective customers see themselves and the possible outcomes they could achieve through a partnership with your brand.
No. 5: Avoid Lazy Calls to Action
Don’t be lazy – as marketers, our goal is to be creative! Avoid the temptation to fill your content with super salesy calls to action or gated content at the expense of “awareness phase” content. Too many “buy now” incentives or too much gated content will turn customers off. Customers sense salesy content where the company places its needs above the audience, which ultimately damages brand trust.
Having a content strategy in place for your organization can have many benefits. When content strategies consistently reflect a deeper understanding of customers, it’s easier to establish and maintain brand trust in a competitive environment. When you give customers what they want – a relationship with your brand that’s built on trust — you can deliver valuable content that addresses their needs at the right time. By using content strategy as a solid foundation for brand trust, your organization is setting itself up to steadily acquire more customers over time.
Bart Frischknecht is the VP of product strategy at Vennli, a content intelligence platform for marketers. Bart has an extensive background in design, marketing and engineering. His unique blend of experience provides a novel perspective on a company’s role to create, communicate and deliver value to its customers.